What Is the Typical Cost to Install a Ductless Mini Split?
The average cost of a mini split $3,500 for a single-zone system that treats one area of the house. For multiple rooms or whole-home solutions, mini split costs range from $17,00 to more than $20,000. These systems are attractive due to their excellent energy efficiency, easy installation, and ability to heat and cool individual rooms.
But, those benefits come with a price that’s much more than the price of a new furnace and central air conditioner, or baseboard heaters and window ac units.
Despite the price tag, more homeowners than ever are upgrading to ductless mini split systems for their home heating and cooling in the mid-Atlantic region. Today’s models are strong enough to handle year-round HVAC needs, making them much more attractive for homes in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland.
As a product manager for the HVAC distributor Peirce Phelps, I’ve seen how these systems have become more beneficial to homeowners in our part of the country. For more than a decade, it’s been my job to track the latest innovations in high-efficiency HVAC and how they improve home comfort.
I also work closely with hundreds of HVAC contractors who have installed thousands of these systems across the region.
In this article, I’ll break down the factors that affect the cost of a heat pump mini split installation and show you some ways to save money on yours and add more value to your home. I’ll also go through how they work, so it all makes more sense.
And, you’ll learn how to maintain your system to get the most from your investment.
If you want to learn more, use our dealer locator button to set up a free consultation from a certified contractor with a great reputation for installations in your area.
Factors that Affect Mini Split Installation Cost
The capacity needs, how you’ll use it, the square footage of your home, and several factors can affect how much it costs to install ductless HVAC:
The heating and cooling capacity of your components plays a large role in the price. For instance, the unit size of an air handler depends on how many BTUs it needs to heat or cool the space where it’s located.
A small room needs less power, and thus a less-expensive unit.
If your mini split is mostly for cooling and a little supplemental heat, your cost will be lower than if the system will heat our home all winter. A heat pump with stronger heating capacity costs more.
A load calculation determines the capacity of your mini-split system the number of zones in your home. It factors the square footage, number of rooms in your home and their layout, your insulation, window treatments, and more.
Number of indoor and outdoor units
A multi-split/multi-zone system will cost more than a single-zone system with just one indoor unit. A single-zone system uses one indoor unit to treat one room.
Or, add up to eight indoor units per heat pump to heat and cool more areas, up to the entire house.
The SEER rating of a mini-split system stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio and measures the amount of energy it uses when heating or cooling your home. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy-efficient the system is, which can save you money on your utility bills.
The next cost factors revolve around what it will take to install the system in your home:
Labor and Permits
The labor costs for installing a mini-split system depends on the complexity of the installation. Your HVAC contractor may need to bring a local carpenter or local electrician to ensure your home can handle the new system. And, most towns require a permit to install new HVAC in your home.
Locations in the House
The location of the mini-split system in your home affects the installation cost. For example, the price goes up if the heat pump or indoor units need to go in hard-to-reach areas. Or if the installer needs to run more lines than usual to connect the components.
Old Equipment Removal
Equipment removal is factored into the installation cost and is usually negligible. But, there are exceptions, such as if your installer also needs to dig up an old oil tank and dispose of it safely.
Lumber and concrete prices can affect the cost of installing your mini split system. You’ll also need accessories such as mounting brackets that are made especially for ductless systems.
Mini Split Parts
Now that you have an idea of what affects the price of your installation, let’s learn more about the actual parts and why their prices may vary:
Outdoor Unit (Heat Pump)
The outdoor unit, also known as the heat pump, moves heat in or out of the house.
Indoor Unit (Air Handlers)
The indoor air-handling unit draws in the air from the room where it’s located, heats or cools that air, and then re-circulates it.
There are three main types of indoor units. Each one has its own thermostat so you can control the temperature in each room individually.
Wall-mounted air handlers are the most popular models. They’re mounted high up on the wall and can be placed near a corner or anywhere that’s out-of-the-way.
Floor or low-wall mounted ductless mini split air handlers are great for rooms with limited wall space. They’re skinny and look a little like the AC units you’d see in a hotel room.
Recessed Ceiling Cassette
Recessed cassette air handlers lay flush against the ceiling for a more discreet installation. These units are ideal for larger rooms or open-plan living spaces.
The refrigerant lines in a mini-split HVAC system carry refrigerant between the outdoor compressor and the indoor air handler. They’re made of copper with insulation around them.
Electrical wiring on a mini-split HVAC system powers the heat pump and indoor units on a dedicated electrical circuit in your home. From there each unit has its own power line.
The condensate line catches water vapor as it turns back into liquid during dehumidification. The lines run from each indoor unit to the outside to drain that water.
Line sets house the electrical wiring, refrigerant lines, and the condensate line.
How Mini Splits Work
Now that you know the parts, let’s see how it all works:
Heat Transfer Process
Ductless mini split systems use heat transfer to cool and heat rooms. It absorbs heat from one area and moves it to another instead of burning gas or oil or warming up coils to generate heat.
How the Components Work Together
In the summer, the air handler draws warm air from the room. The refrigerant absorbs the heat and brings it to the heat pump, which releases it outside. Then, the refrigerant cycles back to the indoor units to repeat the process.
This process works in reverse for heating: The heat pump draws in outside air, and the refrigerant extracts the heat energy from it (a compression system amplifies that heat so it’s strong enough to warm your house).
When that heat reaches the air handler, the indoor unit uses it to warm the air in the room.
Can I Install a Mini Split Myself?
You’ll find plenty of online dealers selling units for far less than hiring a professional contractor. But, a mini-split installation requires technical expertise, specialized tools, knowledge of electrical wiring, and careful load calculations.
Skimping on that can cost you way more in the long run.
Risks of DIY Installation
The common risks of a DIY mini split installation are:
Damaging the System
A bad installation can damage the components or cause additional wear and tear. That leads to more breakdowns and higher service bills.
You need to place each air handler in the right spots to ensure they can circulate the air. Otherwise you won’t get the comfort you’re looking for.
A system that’s too big or too small uses more energy than it should. That results in higher energy bills and extra wear and tear,
More Frequent Breakdowns
Any extra damage or unnatural usage causes the system to break down more often. That means paying more, and more often, for a technician to fix it.
Mold can build up behind walls if condensate lines leak. I’ve also seen units fall off their moments, taking parts of the wall and damaging the furniture.
There’s the risk of electrocution if a unit’s not wired or grounded properly. Plus risk of having an air handler hit you if it comes loose.
Voiding the Warranty
Manufacturers stipulate that a certified contractor must install the system. Otherwise, they won’t reimburse you for any defects or performance issues that would otherwise be covered.
Mini Split Maintenance
A mini split can last 20 years or more with the proper care. That means hiring a professional and handling some upkeep on your own.
There’s a little more to do than with a furnace and central air, but not much. And, the payoff is better comfort and a longer service life.
Typical maintenance and overall cost
Ductless mini split maintenance for mini splits includes two seasonal tune-ups, an annual deep cleaning, and a few minutes of upkeep every month. You can expect to pay between $300 and $500 a year for everything.
A tune-up from a professional HVAC contractor is important for all heating and cooling systems. They ensure your mini split is running efficiently and catch any potential issues before they become major problems.
For a mini split, your tech checks refrigerant levels, cleans the evaporator and condenser coils, replaces any worn out or broken parts, and optimizes the system overall.
You should get two a year, one in the spring and another in the fall. Each one costs between $75 and $200, depending on where you live.
I always recommend an annual deep cleaning, which is usually around $100 per unit. It’s necessary to get rid of any dust or organic contamination that builds up in the air handlers as they draw in air all year long. That buildup can affect performance and also your indoor air quality.
So, this service helps you breathe better while also increasing comfort and keeping utility bills low.
DIY Maintenance Tips
Here are a few tasks you as the homeowner can handle to keep your system running smoothly:
Clean the Air Filters
Clean the air filter in each air handler every month. Dirty filters reduce airflow and force the system to work harder, leading to higher energy bills and reduced efficiency.
Keep the Heat Pump Clean
A dirty heat pump reduces efficiency and can lead to system failure. You can clean it by hosing it down and brushing away any dirt or buildup. Keep the area around it free from trash and vegetation.
Check the Drainage System
You should find the condensate drain coming out of your house with the lineset. Shine a light to check for any blockages, and keep the end of it clean.
How to Save on Mini Split Installation Costs
Finally, here are some ways to save a significant amount of money on your mini split installation cost in Cherry Hill, NJ or anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic region:
Manufacturers offer rebates at different times of the year. Bryant is no exception.
Various laws and regulations mandate that your utility companies provide incentives and rebates for installing high-efficiency HVAC equipment. Check with your gas and electric companies to see what you’ll qualify for.
Federal Tax Breaks
You can file for up to $2,000 in federal tax credits when you do your taxes for installing energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.
Inflation Reduction Act
Thanks to the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, homeowners can apply for up to $8,000 in point-of-sale rebates for heat pumps and mini splits.